Wapping isn’t very good for mudlarking. Unfortunately I only found this out yesterday. I usually go on the south bank of the Thames and find lots of treasures. At the very least there are clay pipe stems. However, by Wapping Wall there’s nothing but masses of bent rusty nails. The way the river bank is shaped means that different things are deposited in different places (called ‘drops’), e.g. a coin drop on one part of the bank, a body drop on another. Wapping is a nail drop, which is very boring.
Anyway, it was still fun messing around on the foreshore, and it provided a great backdrop for the story of The Golem. For about a year now I’d been wondering if I could take the elements of the Jewish legend of the Golem of Prague and set them in the East End of my great-grandparents.
In fact the switch worked very well, with tailor Judah Loeb creating a Golem from the Thames mud. For my own secret enjoyment I had him visit the same synagogue that my great-grandparents got married in. (Interestingly, it’s now a museum of immigration and you can still see it at 19 Princelet Street, E1.)
Luckily it was a warm night, so we were able to have the whole story on Wapping Old Stairs – although Nigel of Bermondsey did report that his fingers got almost too numb to play after three songs. His Wapping songs were a real highlight of the evening. Hope he’ll be doing another Wapping song walk soon.
Finally I really must thank the audience, who entered so brilliantly into the spirit of the event, didn’t moan about the substandard mudlarking opportunities, and bought me drinks afterwards.